Living Everywhere: Notes from Cyprus on the Life of a Digital Nomad

I’m in Paphos, Cyprus, sitting in the bar downstairs of my hotel drinking a Mojito and listening to a trance remix of “Ain’t no mountain high enough.” I had a Greek Gyro for dinner, a welcome change after nearly 3 weeks of Turkish food. Yesterday we traveled from Sanliurfa to Northern Cyprus, spent the night on the Turkish side before a rather long and arduous crossing over to the Greek side. Tomorrow my wife and I fly to London, then Poland, and from there we’ll head south through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. We may take a 2 weeks cruise through Greece and Italy before heading back to Taiwan, then Portland, then Taiwan again (our two home bases).

We’ve been doing this since the beginning of 2013. We don’t have a home or apartment, bills or car payments, and thus it’s much easier to support a life of indefinite travel through my online businesses. We’re not rich, we don’t have a huge savings, and travel can be a huge pain in the ass… but there are places we want to see and now seems like as good a time as any.

If you’re interested in quitting your job, moving abroad, working less and having a nicer lifestyle, you can relocate to any number of countries and life very well on $1,000USD a month (if you made that much in the USA, I believe, you might qualify for welfare). As I learned during many years in Taiwan, however, a low cost of living and comfortable lifestyle are not huge motivators for success and accomplishment: I worked enough to make what I needed, and not more.

Traveling full-time is not really justifiable by any standard, it’s a tremendous waste of resources and all you get is cool photos and fun Facebook status updates. But moving around all the time has serious drawbacks: since the beginning of the year, when we spent 2 months in Mexico, until now, nearly six months later, I’ve had relatively few chances to actually relax and enjoy myself. This isn’t a vacation. I don’t sprawl on the beach or get massages or drink myself silly (I very, very rarely drink anything other than Coke Zero and Cappuccino).

I have a job. I have clients counting on me. I answer dozens of emails and work an average of 8 hours every day (often many more). The stress of being overloaded with work puts a hamper on the whole feeling of blissful freedom that you would expect to come from a ‘work from anywhere’ type of job.

I often don’t have reliable internet, which is a huge problem. I’m often working from an uncomfortable desk or chair, after sitting on a bus for hours. Getting enough sleep while in the road and trying to keep up with work is challenging and energy sapping. Hauling our huge suitcases up and down flights of stairs gets old fast. My wife’s chronically overweight luggage loses wheels after a few weeks on the road, and we have to buy a new one. Going on a vacation for two weeks and actually relaxing (ie not working/answering emails) and going back to a nice, comfortable house or apartment is sounding pretty good these days.

It’s amazing to wake up somewhere new, and travel all the time, and still have money coming in to support it all.

I also realize, as I travel, although I’m usually able to handle my workload, I don’t have any time for the truly glorious empire building steps needed to set up a system of enormous wealth generation. The books I plan to write, the digital products and programs, the websites and tools and how-to guides and all the other things on my todo list. The things that will bring me to a whole new level of affluence (more importantly, perhaps, things that will help people do things they need to do, and take away some of the barriers artists and authors are having in their own careers).

It’s not really about the money, of course, it’s about creatively generating wealth and prosperity that can be wielded for positive progress. And unfortunately, although I enjoy traveling, I realize it’s a terribly selfish and indulgent waste of resources. (I may write a blog post about that…)

I’ve got to get back to work, and this has turned into a rant, so let me close by saying I’m truly grateful for what I have and where I am, and truly hopeful that I will soon be able to help others have more financial and geographical freedom in their own lives.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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